The new 50:22 law variation from World Rugby has been used extensively throughout the end-of-year internationals, to varying degrees of success.
But in their defeat to Scotland last weekend, Japan showed the world exactly why the law variation was brought in, as they scored a superbly worked try off the back of an equally strong tactical kick.
The 50:22 law rewards the attacking team by giving them the line-out if the ball is kicked indirectly into touch inside the opposition’s 22, provided the ball was first kicked inside the attacking side’s own half.
Fly-half Rikiya Matsuda put boot to ball as Japan looked to get behind the effective Scottish line defence, and it paid off handsomely as the ball rolled into touch just yards out from the try-line.
That gave Japan the line-out – which they would otherwise not have in the old laws – and scored their only try of the match off the back of the resulting set-piece.
Whether the game actually needs to have a law like this to spice up the attack remains up for debate but what it did showcase last weekend, was that when used effectively, the 50:22 can lead to points on the board.
It also places far more importance on good out-of-hand kicking and reduces the amount of aimless kicking, instead focusing on gaining possession advantage as well as the territorial upper-hand.
It’s not clear what the future holds for the 50:22 law, with critics suggestion it is nothing more than a gimmick implemented to manufacturer attack play while others praised it for making it easier for teams to get around wall-like defences.
What’s clear is that Japan, always renowned for their innovative and highly accurate play, have found a way to extract the most out of the new law.